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Storsveit Nix Noltes - Orkideur Hawai

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Artist: Storsveit Nix Noltes

Album: Orkideur Hawai

Label: Bubble Core

Review date: Feb. 26, 2006

Ah, globalization – what a force. Set aside your knee-jerk reactions for the moment, and reflect on the phenomenon that allows one corner of Europe to keep alive the cultural traditions of another corner of Europe for an American audience that may or may not (emphasis on the “may not”) have any genuine interest in the particular cultural tradition being kept alive. For here we have Storsveit Nix Noltes, a collective of Icelandic musicians numbering up to a dozen people, who play instrumental music heavily influenced by Eastern European folk music. Heavily, heavily influenced, actually. Their debut album, Orkideur Hawai, does not just have traces of Eastern European music that you can hear from time to time, leading you perhaps to describe the music as sounding “sort of Eastern European.” Rather than pretend that I know enough about folk traditions to judge whether or not Storsveit Nix Noltes perform with any kind of authenticity, I’ll merely note that to a casual listener it sounds almost exactly like the kind of thing you could expect to pick up in the world music aisle at your local record store, perhaps with a little more electric guitar.

Indeed, what separates Storsveit Nix Noltes from your more traditional world music artists is the audience for which they play. Their record is released by Bubblecore, a northeast indie label, and they open for Animal Collective. It’s an interesting idea, at least, this attempt to draw young urbanites out onto the dance floor with the accordion and fiddle.

It even works, to a certain degree. Like a lot of contemporary dance records, Orkideur Hawai has a stubborn consistency; “Kreptatka,” the first song on the album, is representative of the wildly uptempo, accordion-driven (yes indeed) formula that predominates on the other 10 songs. There’s no room for breaks or diversions: “Laz,” with its slow strings in its first minute, is about as experimental as it gets. If one were in the appropriate mood, one could put this album on and sit down 52 minutes later, all polka-ed out.

Therein lies the limit of Orkideur Hawai’s appeal. Most people who run across it probably will not know enough about the source material to really develop a strong opinion. A record this far outside the box works primarily as a change of pace, and most people who listen to it, myself included, will notice it more for its novelty than for its quality.

By Tom Zimpleman

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